June 04, 2013 | 06:13 PMWAUWATOSA — The Big Foot/Williams Bay girls soccer squad was riding high.
The Lady Chief Dogs entered Saturday's WIAA Division II regional final against fourth-seeded Milwaukee Pius XI on a 16-game win streak.
The Rock Valley Conference champions, who put together one of the best regular seasons in school history, were determined to prove they were for real against Pius, a perennial powerhouse.
Big Foot came out strong but couldn't penetrate Pius' stingy defense.
By the second half, the Lady Chiefs ran out of gas and eventually lost, 1-0, at the Wisconsin Lutheran Athletic Complex.
"We came out and dominated early," Big Foot coach Annie Isham said.
"We controlled the ball for the first 20 minutes or so. We had some nice opportunities."
But in the first half, Big Foot's momentum was thwarted when Ali Mazur caught a ball to the nose. Mazur was replaced on defense by midfielder Schyler Isham.
Annie Isham said the switch interrupted the team's flow.
"They got back at us," Annie Isham said.
"Fatigue was a big factor. We just don't have the bench. I couldn't rest my key players, and they were getting tired."
Pius' goal may have been a result of that fatigue. Houstan Vassel dribbled past a couple Big Foot defenders and crossed the ball to Brenna Sibley in the middle of the field about 15 yards out. A wide-open Sibley kicked a slow dribbler toward the left corner of the net, and Big Foot goalie Natalie Boldger couldn't stop it in time.
"We didn't get back and cover," Annie Isham said of the goal. "We missed a mark."
Annie Isham said Pius used a good defensive wall and was well-organized, which stymied Big Foot's offense.
"Pius was well-balanced and patient," she said. "We were having trouble getting passes to utilize our speed. Literally, we ran out of gas."
Mazur came back in the game to play the "game of her life," according to Annie Isham.
Big Foot finished the season 16-1-1. Pius improved to 13-7-1.
"I'm very proud of how we played," Annie Isham said. "Nobody quit."
Despite having only three seniors and plethora of freshmen, Big Foot's 16-1-1 mark was the best in the school history.
"We're right up there with our football team," Annie Isham joked after the game. "I'm super impressed, especially with my freshmen. I'm literally surprised at how well we did. I look forward to next season, which starts tomorrow."
Big Foot will say goodbye to seniors Maggie Kivlin, Molly Kovarik and Rachael Gooding.
Kivlin contributed in the midfield, and Kovarik was a menacing defender.
Gooding missed the season due to injury.
"They were unbelievable leaders," Annie Isham said. "They did a fantastic job, and we will miss them both on and off the field."